From cocktails to craft: What do millennials want in alcoholic beverages?

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

From cocktails to craft: What do millennials want in alcoholic beverages?

Related tags Alcoholic beverages Alcoholic beverage

Millennials value authenticity and experience, leading them towards craft beer, cocktails and fine wine, according to Fona International. 

While popular flavors in alcoholic beverages vary between categories, honey and spice are both appealing across different beverages. Coconut, citrus and ginger are also popular as they offer refreshing flavor profiles, reaching out to health conscious consumers.

The taste of travel

Millennials like alcoholic beverages inspired by travel (either real or aspirational) – a way of having a new experience without big financial commitment, according to flavor company Fona in its 2016 Trend Insight report.

When looking for new drinks, millennials tend to mistrust most advertising, but do pay attention to online marketing, blog recommendations, in-store tasting and food and drink festivals.


“The flavors of alcoholic beverages vary largely on the category but similarities definitely exist,” ​says the report. “Honey appears on several category lists especially in the last two years.”

Honey has appeared in the flavored wine category this year, marking the possible beginning of a trend, continues the report. Honey flavors are also seen in cider, beer and dark spirits.  

“Spice is also a cross category winner especially in beer, cider and dark spirits and the number of fruit flavors doesn’t disappoint either.

“Coconut, citrus and ginger offer refreshing flavor profiles that are sure to satisfy health conscious, flavor seeking millennials.”

Beer: innovation is the real story

Millennials drink beer mostly in social settings. Beer’s sales dollars are shifting towards craft. In the US, the craft beer market takes up almost 25% of beer market revenues but only 10% of the volume.

“The US is ahead of other countries in the craft beer market by many years but Europe, especially the UK and Scandinavia, is ramping up and China’s craft beer market has exploded as well claiming over 1,000 breweries. The real story is in the innovation, which is rooted deep in American history and still led by the US today.”

Spirits: The theater aspect of cocktails

Millennials drink more different types of spirits (vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey) than other generations. Like beer, millennials are most likely to drink in a social group, whereas previous generations were more likely to drink spirits for themselves. Nostalgia for vintage spirits and cocktails drives interest in cocktails.

“Millennials like the theater aspect of making a cocktail, which plays into the experiential situations they crave,” ​says the report.

Whiskey, in particular, is popular with the group, who associate the spirit with vintage and retro.

“The difference can be seen with the dizzying ascent of Fireball whiskey, whose cinnamon spice captures the millennials attitude about consuming alcoholic beverages: a high proof whiskey with intense great flavor that lends itself to a wide array of shot recipes.”

Wine: technology helps millennials navigate the sector

According to a 2014 study from Wine Market Council, 29% of US wine drinkers are aged 21-34. In addition, millennials are the most adventurous drinkers.

The wine sector may seem overwhelming for many; but millennials are using technology to discover the sector.

“Research loving millennials depend on peer reviews, wine apps or membership based wine clubs, like the Tasting Room, that allow them to whittle down wines choices based on personal preferences instead of expert recommendations.”

The full trends report is available here.

Related topics Markets Beer & cider Beer

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